I'm published today at the Metropolis, pondering the ways that Internet culture can make it difficult to connect to your local community:
So when it came time to move to Philadelphia, we got rid of everything that would help us connect with the world immediately around us: the radio and the television and the newspaper subscription. Our computers would work for all those things. Right?
What I found out is this: The miracle of the Internet is that it can bring you news, music and video from anywhere on the planet. The curse of the Internet, it turns out, is that it can bring you news, music and video from anywhere on the planet. It's easy to avoid the local culture. In my eagerness to abandon the provincialism of my youth, I forgot that you can only live where you live.
This might seem a strange essay coming from me, since I've built my (ahem) career over the last decade by jumping with both feet into what is still sometimes called "New Media." That's served me well, as has my ability to connect to the broader culture in the ways I describe. I wouldn't take it back. But those benefits don't -- haven't -- come entirely without costs, even to me personally. I'm trying to figure out how to find the best balance my life -- and my parenting -- so that I can embrace the best of what Internet Culture has created without untethering myself entirely from the analog world. I don't want to become a Luddite, reading dusty texts by candlelight, but I don't want to live inside a Tron video game either. It's a daily struggle.
But please, follow the link. Give it a thumbs-up and comment, so Tom Ferrick will be inclined to run my stuff again in the future.